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« Friends, Friendsters, and Top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites | Main | on being virtual »

December 12, 2006

Second Life: What are the real numbers?

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Posted by Clay Shirky

Second Life is heading towards two million users. Except it isn’t, really. We all know how this game works, and has since the earliest days of the web:

Member of the Business Press: “How many users do you have?”
CEO of Startup: (covers phone) “Hey guys, how many rows in the ‘users’ table?”
[Sound F/X: Typing]
Offstage Sysadmin: “One million nine hundred and one thousand one hundred and seventy-three.”
CEO: (Into phone) “We have one point nine million users.”

Someone who tries a social service once and bails isn’t really a user any more than someone who gets a sample spoon of ice cream and walks out is a customer.

So here’s my question — how many return users are there? We know from the startup screen that the advertised churn of Second Life is over 60% (as I write this, it’s 690,800 recent users to 1,901,173 signups, or 63%.) That’s not stellar but it’s not terrible either. However, their definition of “recently logged in” includes everyone in the last 60 days, even though the industry standard for reporting unique users is 30 days, so we don’t actually know what the apples to apples churn rate is.

At a guess, Second Life churn measured in the ordinary way is in excess of 85%, with a surge of new users being driven in by the amount of press the service is getting. The wider the Recently Logged In reporting window is, the bigger the bulge of recently-arrived-but-never-to-return users that gets counted in the overall numbers.

I suspect Second Life is largely a “Try Me” virus, where reports of a strange and wonderful new thing draw the masses to log in and try it, but whose ability to retain anything but a fraction of those users is limited. The pattern of a Try Me virus is a rapid spread of first time users, most of whom drop out quickly, with most of the dropouts becoming immune to later use. Pointcast was a Try Me virus, as was LambdaMOO, the experiment that Second Life most closely resembles.

Press Pass

I have been watching the press reaction to Second Life with increasing confusion. Breathless reports of an Immanent Shift in the Way We Live® do not seem to be accompanied by much skepticism. I may have been made immune to the current mania by ODing on an earlier belief in virtual worlds:

Similar to the way previous media dissolved social boundaries related to time and space, the latest computer-mediated communications media seem to dissolve boundaries of identity as well. […] I know a respectable computer scientist who spends hours as an imaginary ensign aboard a virtual starship full of other real people around the world who pretend they are characters in a Star Trek adventure. I have three or four personae myself, in different virtual communities around the Net. I know a person who spends hours of his day as a fantasy character who resembles “a cross between Thorin Oakenshield and the Little Prince,” and is an architect and educator and bit of a magician aboard an imaginary space colony: By day, David is an energy economist in Boulder, Colorado, father of three; at night, he’s Spark of Cyberion City—a place where I’m known only as Pollenator.

This wasn’t written about Second Life or any other 3D space, it was Howard Rheingold writing about MUDs in 1993. This was a sentiment I believed and publicly echoed at the time. Per Howard, “MUDs are living laboratories for studying the first-level impacts of virtual communities.” Except, of course, they weren’t. If, in 1993, you’d studied mailing lists, or usenet, or irc, you’d have a better grasp of online community today than if you’d spent a lot of time in LambdaMOO or Cyberion City. Ou sont les TinyMUCKs d’antan?

You can find similar articles touting 3D spaces shortly after the MUD frenzy. Ready for a blast from the past? “August 1996 may well go down in the annals of the Internet as the turning point when the Web was released from the 2D flatland of HTML pages.” Oops.

So what accounts for the current press interest in Second Life? I have a few ideas, though none is concrete enough to call an answer yet.

First, the tech beat is an intake valve for the young. Most reporters don’t remember that anyone has ever wrongly predicted a bright future for immersive worlds or flythrough 3D spaces in the past, so they have no skepticism triggered by the historical failure of things like LambdaMOO or VRML. Instead, they hear of a marvelous thing — A virtual world! Where you have an avatar that travels around! And talks to other avatars! — which they then see with their very own eyes. How cool is that? You’d have to be a pretty crotchety old skeptic not to want to believe. I bet few of those reporters ever go back, but I’m sure they’re sure that other people do (something we know to be false, to a first approximation, from the aforementioned churn.) Second Life is a story that’s too good to check.

Second, virtual reality is conceptually simple. Unlike ordinary network communications tools, which require a degree of subtlety in thinking about them — as danah notes, there is no perfect metaphor for a weblog, or indeed most social software — Second Life’s metaphor is simplicity itself: you are a person, in a space. It’s like real life. (Only, you know, more second.) As Philip Rosedale explained it to Business Week “[I]nstead of using your mouse to move an arrow or cursor, you could walk your avatar up to an Amazon.com (AMZN) shop, browse the shelves, buy books, and chat with any of the thousands of other people visiting the site at any given time about your favorite author over a virtual cuppa joe.”

Never mind that the cursor is a terrific way to navigate information; never mind that Amazon works precisely because it dispenses with rather than embraces the cyberspace metaphor; never mind that all the “Now you can shop in 3D efforts” like the San Francisco Yellow Pages tanked because 3D is a crappy way to search. The invitation here is to reason about Second Life by analogy, which is simpler than reasoning about it from experience. (Indeed, most of the reporters writing about Second Life seem to have approached it as tourists getting stories about it from natives.)

Third, the press has a congenital weakness for the Content Is King story. Second Life has made it acceptable to root for the DRM provider, because of their enlightened user agreements concerning ownership. This obscures the fact that an enlightened attempt to make digital objects behave like real world objects suffers from exactly the same problems as an unenlightened attempt, a la the RIAA and MPAA. All the good intentions in the world won’t confer atomicity on binary data. Second Life is pushing against the ability to create zero-cost perfect copies, whereas Copybot relied on that most salient of digital capabilities, which is how Copybot was able to cause so much agida with so little effort — it was working with the actual, as opposed to metaphorical, substrate of Second Life.

Finally, the current mania is largely push-driven. Many of the articles concern “The first person/group/organization in Second Life to do X”, where X is something like have a meeting or open a store — it’s the kind of stuff you could read off a press release. Unlike Warcraft, where the story is user adoption, here most of the stories are about provider adoption, as with the Reuters office or the IBM meeting or the resident creative agencies. These are things that can be created unilaterally and top-down, catnip to the press, who are generally in the business of covering the world’s deciders.

The question about American Apparel, say, is not “Did they spend money to set up stores in Second Life?” Of course they did. The question is “Did it pay off?” We don’t know. Even the recent Second Life millionaire story involved eliding the difference between actual and potential wealth, a mistake you’d have thought 2001 would have chased from the press forever. In illiquid markets, extrapolating that a hundred of X are worth the last sale price of X times 100 is a fairly serious error.

Artifacts vs. Avatars

Like video phones, which have been just one technological revolution away from mass adoption since 1964, virtual reality is so appealingly simple that its persistent failure to be a good idea, as measured by user adoption, has done little to dampen enthusiasm for the coming day of Keanu Reeves interfaces and Snow Crash interactions.

I was talking to Irving Wladawsky-Berger of IBM about Second Life a few weeks ago, and his interest in the systems/construction aspect of 3D seems promising, in the same way video phones have been used by engineers who train the camera not on their faces but on the artifacts they are talking about. There is something to environments for modeling or constructing visible things in communal fashion, but as with the video phone, they will probably involve shared perceptions of artifacts, rather than perceptions of avatars.

This use, however, is specific to classes of problems that benefit from shared visual awareness, and that class is much smaller that the current excitement about visualization would suggest. More to the point, it is at odds with the “Son of MUD+thePalace” story currently being written about Second Life. If we think of a user as someone who has returned to a site after trying it once, I doubt that the number of simultaneous Second Life users breaks 10,000 regularly. If we raise the bar to people who come back for a second month, I wonder if the site breaks 10,000 simultaneous return visitors outside highly promoted events.

Second Life may be wrought by its more active users into something good, but right now the deck is stacked against it, because the perceptions of great user growth and great value from scarcity are mutually reinforcing but built on sand. Were the press to shift to reporting Recently Logged In as their best approximation of the population, the number of reported users would shrink by an order of magnitude; were they to adopt industry-standard unique users reporting (assuming they could get those numbers), the reported population would probably drop by two orders. If the growth isn’t as currently advertised (and it isn’t), then the value from scarcity is overstated, and if the value of scarcity is overstated, at least one of the engines of growth will cool down.

There’s nothing wrong with a service that appeals to tens of thousands of people, but in a billion-person internet, that population is also a rounding error. If most of the people who try Second Life bail (and they do), we should adopt a considerably more skeptical attitude about proclamations that the oft-delayed Virtual Worlds revolution has now arrived.

Comments (85) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: social software


COMMENTS

1. Bill Seitz on December 12, 2006 4:03 PM writes...

Back when I was worrying about usage number, the metric I settled on was "users who logged in within the last month, whose account was created *more* than a month ago".

Then, the next step is to take that number, and make the distribution curve of amount-of-usage (hours, logins, pages, whatever) by user.

But usually you never get to that second number, because all the execs order you to never look at traffic numbers again, once you show them that first one.

Permalink to Comment

2. Jed Harris on December 13, 2006 3:51 AM writes...

Lots of numbers are available at the economy stats page, including "Residents Logged-In During Last" 7, 14, 30 and 60 days, land sales (amount and price), number of islands sold (effectively new hosting accounts), business profits, dollar value of transactions broken down by transaction size, etc. etc. etc.

I'm not a Second Lifer and Clay's guesses may be right. But I'd like to see him rewrite the article taking into account a lot of this data. In particular he complains about not having the 30 day number, but there it is.

Quite possibly the numbers need more interpretation -- for example, is the number of customers spending money in SL in November (121,332) truly unique customers, or is there some double counting based on transaction type?

If the number of users given is truly unique customers, then it looks like the average users per day can't be less than 4000, and if the average user logged in more than two days during the month, the average day is over Clay's threshold number of 10,000 -- but of course probably not simultaneous. Since this is users spending money, not just visiting, I don't think averaging more than two days is a big stretch.

All of which is just to say, I don't know, and I'd like to get more data and insight from wiser thinkers than myself.

Permalink to Comment

3. Jed Harris on December 13, 2006 3:59 AM writes...

Actually, much more detailed numbers are available -- in the upper right corner is a link to raw data which is available for each individual day. I don't have time to play with it right now, but if you want numbers, you've got them.

Permalink to Comment

4. Jed Harris on December 13, 2006 4:17 AM writes...

And yet more numbers. On the economy graphs page, we get data on premium accounts, volume of currency transactions, etc. A spreadsheet is available, but with only month granularity.

In November the total Linden currency exchange volume was US $2.6 M with US $1.1 M payouts (i.e. sales of L $ for US $). Decent volume.

One especially interesting number is the total hours online -- 7,464,000 for November. This is nearly 25,000 10 hour days every day. I have trouble believing this number but it is certainly worth digging into, and isn't subject to the sort of distortions Clay describes.

Permalink to Comment

5. Prokofy Neva on December 13, 2006 6:16 AM writes...

Oh, pshaw:

"Snarky Shirky or Why the Geeks Got to Go"
http://secondthoughts.typepad.com/second_thoughts/2006/12/clay_shirky_or_.html

And you need to study the numbers more:
http://www.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2006/12/what_is_the_tru.html

Permalink to Comment

6. Prokofy Neva on December 13, 2006 6:20 AM writes...

Oh, pshaw:

"Snarky Shirky or Why the Geeks Got to Go"
http://secondthoughts.typepad.com/second_thoughts/2006/12/clay_shirky_or_.html

And you need to study the numbers more:
http://www.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2006/12/what_is_the_tru.html

Permalink to Comment

7. Jack Schofield on December 13, 2006 7:58 AM writes...

Second Life -- two million today or what?

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/archives/2006/12/13/second_life_two_million_today_or_what.html

Permalink to Comment

8. Proikofy Neva on December 13, 2006 8:30 AM writes...

There aren't a real 2 million people logging on at once because a lot of them are "try-mes" as Clay says, or alts, or mess-ups, or people who get frustrated. The figures of 30 and 60 days have to be watched closely.

But...So? There are reliably, solidly 100-120,000 or more logged on per day. As I've explained, the impressive number is 6,000 landowners 18 months ago increased to 36,000 land owners today. Not as dramatic, but proof of solid growth.

Permalink to Comment

9. Taran Rampersad on December 13, 2006 12:18 PM writes...

Actually, there are *dependably* less than 18,000 users in SecondLife. This is because of alternate accounts, and also because people can have more than 1 connection to SecondLife at a time. Prok's number of 36,000 land owners would indicate 36,000 users, so we could go with 36,000. I could see 100,000 at the top side, but it's really difficult to estimate. There's not really a solid and undisputable metric availavle.

Owning land means an account is vested. So vested accounts might be a realistic number.

Linden Lab *does* have the ability to differentiate users based on their hardware. If they can ban a person based on their hardware (quite possibly their MAC address), then they can tell how many NICs are on the network.

Counting NICs would be more useful, but still doesn't give a true number of users. I do know people with more than one computer logging in as alts at the same time. It's also quite common in small farming operations in other virtual worlds.

The economic statistics would be a nice place to look as well, but those are reasonably obfuscated because of interavatar transaction recordkeeping plus other issues related to SL investments. Still, the number of users which have payment information would be a good figure - and even then, with multiple credit cards...

The only way to look at these numbers is within a context. If IBM gets 10,000 residents passing through an island every day, that tells us exactly that - 10,000 residents were there. What does that mean? Well, that would depend on what IBM was trying to do that day. Was it making sales? How many? Suddenly there is a context.

Statistics without context mean nothing... even if there are 1 billion users in SecondLife - it doesn't mean squat. Context, context, context.

Permalink to Comment

10. Michael Collins on December 13, 2006 3:29 PM writes...

Thanks, Clay. Terrific, insightful article -- the calmest, most clear-headed review of Second Life Mania I've read in the month or two since the virtual world mesmerized the press. Keep 'em coming.

Permalink to Comment

11. Donnagh McDonnagh on December 13, 2006 3:29 PM writes...

What is more interesting than this ostensive debate about current adoption and use rates, is the unspoken question of: what numbers _mean_, and what would that meaning be?

Naysayers are sure to crop up whenver there is an emerging phenomena and the kind of hype and media feeding frenzy we now see in Second Life. Folks interested in their own quotability will be those who step out front and act as "the other side" in reportage that has been fairly one-sided (for obvious reasons, reportage on a new phenomena).

But come on, we deserve more than that. As Taran suggests, we need context. At the same time, comparisons to the 2d web may be useful (in terms of the sort of context that we might need), but not if they are used to bludgeon an emerging phenomena with a more mature one (e.g., SL as a rounding error).

Folks, this is an emerging and as yet not-well-understood phenomena, similar in some ways to the web2.0 boom that is now going on. If you don't like the heat of the 2d and 3d web stove-o-hype, then stay out of the Internet kitchen.

Cheers,
Donnagh

Permalink to Comment

12. kathy on December 13, 2006 3:49 PM writes...

I'm not even sure their reported numbers are accurate. There's something sketchy about a game that has 15,000 concurrent users but adds 30,000 new users a day.

Permalink to Comment

13. eraserhead on December 13, 2006 8:32 PM writes...

"Folks, this is an emerging and as yet not-well-understood phenomena, similar in some ways to the web2.0 boom that is now going on. If you don't like the heat of the 2d and 3d web stove-o-hype, then stay out of the Internet kitchen."

It's retarded shit spin like this that pisses me off. Hey Donnagh, this crap has been floating around in the bowels of the web almost as long as the web itself. It didn't take off then, it's not going to take off now. SL has gotten more press than God recently, yet the people came to the mountain, saw the sights, and decided to go back home. SL will always flounder in the sea of the internet, just as MUSHes and MOOs have done since the 80's, get over it, your not going to convince us otherwise, no matter how much virtual pussy SL can produce.

And web 2.0, heh, learn any more marketing slang today? Stay out of the internet kitchen? It's BS people like you I'm trying to shove out of it.

Sorry for the off color remarks to everyone else, I'm just at my wits end with hearing about the second coming of the internet that isn't.

Permalink to Comment

14. Howard Rheingold on December 13, 2006 10:10 PM writes...

Note that in the 1993 book Clay quotes from, I did not claim that MUDs were the ONLY living laboratories for considering the future of online interaction and that I did, in that very book, look at "mailing lists, Usenet and IRC" (and message boards in USA, France and UK, and at Minitel, and at BBSs). Otherwise, I agree that the learning curve for SL is steep enough that people who register, look around, and never return are probably the majority, and will probably remain the majority. I am not so sure that a relatively small number of active users -- say tens of thousands instead of millions -- means that SL is doomed to insignificance. One figure I'd like to see is the number of people who create objects and environments in SL. I'm prepared to be skeptical about the hype, but not prepared to write off the future of SL.

Permalink to Comment

15. Crissa on December 13, 2006 10:32 PM writes...

...You can log into SL more than once at a time, with one computers. It's a command-line option to launching the client.

...The aggregate users number does a fair bit of work to get rid of 'alts'. The number would be far higher for every greifer who's attempted to make dozens of fake accounts for themself. Alts only count after they vest with a different set of verified information.

...The spent linden nnumber you quoted I believe is not people who've given linden to another person in game, but bought or sold linden for cash? Look at those numbers.

And really, you can get this information from anyone. Remember AOL's first million users? We knew there wasn't really a million Americans on AOL, it was probably only 200K-500K paying accounts, but they would never verify it. It took five years and a securities scandal to route them out.

At least we have solid numbers of who's paying. We don't have that information from Blizzard, for instance. And does it matter if there are only several hundred thousand paying customers?

Several hundred thousand makes this single virtual world larger than any other; even WoW is played on over a hundred 'realms' which are completely and totally seperate from each other.

Permalink to Comment

16. Heehow on December 14, 2006 5:25 AM writes...

Yo, if there are 25,000 ppls spending 10 hrs/day and paying for this, in SL, then they deserve exactely what they get : a SL :)
The world is full of losers and suckers and con-artists, and the VWs are just the wild west of it.
If you are logging in a VW for fun, that's ok . If you let yourself fooled by the illusion that you " invest " , " buy " , " own property "," 1,9 godzillion ppls did the same before you " bla-bla mumbo-jumbo , then you are the next whiner about internet fraud.One can make a free account using a fake ID on almost any VW-MMORPG.This is the right path to follow;test that product-service , for free , and risks-free. Afterall, they should pay you for testing their crap.

Permalink to Comment

17. victor george on December 14, 2006 9:07 AM writes...

When I thought that SL was an ingenious plaything, I was intrigued by it, but then I found it was the future of the internet, and I decided that I hate it. I even started a blog at http://www.ihatesecondlife.blogspot.com. What I've discovered since then is that large numbers of people are completely unimpressed by the Second Life Hype. My daughter, a WoW enthusiast, seems to be embarassed that I'm taking the whole thing so seriously.

The point is that more elaborate technologies are not necessarily better than simpler technologies. This is why, after all this time, we still eat soup with the same basic spoon.

I wonder if anyone has ever done (or ever could do) a study of the size and variation of all that is going on the various IRC networks. Over the past four years, I've hung out with friends, shared porno files, arranged a virtual reunion of memebers from my high school class, and learned Linux in IRC. It suggests that the possibilities are pretty broad, particularly for education. There may be imprtatnt hings going on in IRC right now that the media is unaware of.

Dragging an avatar to a virtual classroom to sit with other avatars and be lectured by an avatar professor isn't going to add anything real to the experience of online education. It's like an electronic soup spoon.

Permalink to Comment

18. Alex on December 14, 2006 4:43 PM writes...

I see a wave of new users that start using SL as a business tool, especially in education/testing. Subjects of are not connected to SL at all (for example, psychological testing, teamwork assesment and training, language courses, artificial intelligence). There is a lot of potential for education like this in Second Life, as opposed to LambdaMoo and whatever else 3D game dungeons were mentioned in the article. It does remind me of web circa '95-97 when those who saw web as a "game" were drowned by business users.I personally don't care much if somedy finds SL to be lame for their "gaming", sorry guys. It's good enough that it works for my business.

Permalink to Comment

19. Chaos Venera on December 14, 2006 4:53 PM writes...

An *extremely* raw calculation...
1 600 000 users registered...
60% od dead accounts
640 000 "active" users"
AT LEAST 1/2 of them are first times or unstable users on their first week
320 000 "stable" users
With people having from 1 to 5 alts
100 000 "real" users

out of those, PREMIUM accounts probably et down to 1 out of 5 people (overestimate)
20.000 real people in total!

Permalink to Comment

20. Heehow on December 14, 2006 7:35 PM writes...

It makes no difference at all, if there are 5k users or 50k users. It seems that they are enough paying LL's expenses and profits. But even this, is not so sure anymore.LL is reducing the servers load.Why ? Because the cash-flow diminishes. SL is not a game , you cannot have fun playing there, because there is nothing to play with. Doing business ? For that, you need customers willing to buy your stuff.That's the point : ppls are somehow reticent to pay their hard-earned dollars ,for something that they dont posses and may not freely use.Well, thing looks totally different, if you are a freaking pedo....then, SL is the right place for you to go.

Permalink to Comment

21. Troy McLuhan on December 14, 2006 10:31 PM writes...

Some journalists like to point Macs and laugh and say they are a rounding error. Those articles get all kinds of buzz, because lots of people like Macs and don't like being dismissed as idiots. Then others buzz about the buzz, etc. A classic journalistic formula - when you don't have anything new or insightful to say. Bleh.

Permalink to Comment

22. blackbelt on December 15, 2006 9:53 AM writes...

QUOTE:
I see a wave of new users that start using SL as a business tool, especially in education/testing. Subjects of are not connected to SL at all (for example, psychological testing, teamwork assesment and training, language courses, artificial intelligence). There is a lot of potential for education like this in Second Life, as opposed to LambdaMoo and whatever else 3D game dungeons were mentioned in the article. It does remind me of web circa '95-97 when those who saw web as a "game" were drowned by business users.I personally don't care much if somedy finds SL to be lame for their "gaming", sorry guys. It's good enough that it works for my business.
END OF QUOTE

But HOW does it work for your business? I just can't understand how cluttering up the interface with phoney information is going to make Second Life a more effective educational tool than irc or the web. For one thing, if you're not a gamer, it's not terribly user friendly. For me, it's easier to use the Linux Command Line than to keep my avatar from walking into walls.

Permalink to Comment

23. Clay Shirky on December 15, 2006 10:20 AM writes...

Troy, the rounding error formulation is true of the Mac, and I say this as a Mac user. If someone were to claim that Macs were sweeping the world as a great new way to compute, you'd be as right to be skeptical as of Second Life. More to the point, people who try Macs don't bail at a rate in excess of 6 out of 7.

Heehow, it makes not difference how many users there are, *so long as whatever number is not wrongly reported.* The target of the piece isn't the users, it's the press, mainly, and LL as enablers. Authenticity of individual user experience is beyond criticism, but social cues about engagement or utility are not. In a network with no gatekeeper, social judgment is our first-order filter, and perversion of that judgment is therefore a serious risk.

If there are 100K users, but people are being encouraged to think that there are over a million users (and they are; even the official 2L blog reports one-time signups as "Residents", with its overtones of having moved in instead of trying and bailing) then that is a distortion that should be corrected.

Alex, I'm not sure if you read the piece I wrote. I'm not saying anything about the experience in Second Life; if you like it, great, but my question isn't "What is exciting the passionate users of Second Life?" or even "Where are those users taking the platform?" Those are both interesting questions, but irrelevant to my current concern. My question is a lot simpler: "How many passionate users are there, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the whole?" A related question is "Why is that number so hard to get to, and why is the press (wilfully? cluelessly?) reporting logins as a metric for those users?"

And Howard, you are right -- I didn't meant to suggest you were proclaiming MUY's as the One True Way -- we were all pretty interested in them in 1993, and I think we all over-estimated their ultimate utility, self very much included.

Permalink to Comment

24. blackbelt_jones on December 15, 2006 12:42 PM writes...

Educational and business networking software should shape and organize information, and second life does just the opposite of that. It adds a huge amount of artificial information that needs to be processed by the user and serves no practical purpose. It's vastly inefficient, absurdly bloated and user friendly only to the experienced gamer.

It may have some utility for advertising, but only to the residents of second life. For a sales presentation, I'd be very careful about that. Some customers customers will think that a second-life sales presentation is a gas, but others are going to feel foolish and uncomfortable about being reduced to an awkward cartoon-puppet, and that may not be conducive to sales.

But as far as educational and business networking is concerned, the limitations seem pretty obvious to me, and I do believe they will obvious to everyone soon.

I also believe that mass acceptance is going to be a problem. Those who are in Second Life now, and rhapsodizing its virtues are those who tend to be suited for second life. I found it boring, awkward and silly, and so will many others. Second Life is not like television or talking movies, technological advances that allow an audiene to be passive. It demands participation, and it demands practice. I got bored with Second Life long before I ever got good at it.

Permalink to Comment

25. Eric Rice on December 15, 2006 10:04 PM writes...

So, any thoughts on the social software perspective; those that are hybrids between SL + WoW + other gaming worlds.

And are we just too afraid to admit that while this isn't new, no one was ready for it then? First-ism debunked. Google wasn't first, neither was SL.

Are we so trying to dance around the 'not a game' sound byte that we won't compare the social impacts of a DIY-ish environment in an industry nearing 14 billion dollars.

Of course numbers are crap, but is that what we should focus on?

The most important idea of this is: the concept will outlive the platform. Yet, as techies or techie-wannabes, we are counting beans and not playing with Occum's Razor in a positive way.

Permalink to Comment

26. blackbelt_jones on December 16, 2006 10:51 AM writes...

Eric, I've been using IRC for four years now. I've traded porn, arranged a virtual class reunion, and learned most of what I know about Linux in IRC. When I consider these very diferent activities, I've got to assume that there is a huge variety of information networking activities going on in the world of IRC that I don't know about, and that the mainstream media is unaware of. The revolution has already happened... and it wasn't televised.

Others will have a different opinion, but for me, Second Life adds nothing meaningful to the real-time social networking that has become an everyday thing for me. As I've said earlier, the visual information is phoney, the physical interaction is a sham, and it all distracts and interferes with the real information that is transmitted. In IRC, the visual element is usually missing, but it's always possible to post a picture on the web and post the url in the chat. It's crude compared to Second Life, but it's REAL. I like seeing what the person I'm talking to looks like; I'm not interested in seeing a pixilated puppet that looks like Wile E Coyote.

Second Life, or something like it is definitely here to stay, but they're overselling it. It has applications for entertainment, advertising, and possibly art.


For business and education, I really do believe that its applications are going to be vastly limited. I'm sorry, but I just can't see how dragging an avatar to a virtual classroom or a virtual meeting isn't a waste of time, attention and bandwidth.

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27. blackbelt_jones on December 16, 2006 11:01 AM writes...

Eric, I've been using IRC for four years now. I've traded porn, arranged a virtual class reunion, and learned most of what I know about Linux in IRC. When I consider these very diferent activities, I've got to assume that there is a huge variety of information networking activities going on in the world of IRC that I don't know about, and that the mainstream media is unaware of. The revolution has already happened... and it wasn't televised.

Others will have a different opinion, but for me, Second Life adds nothing meaningful to the real-time social networking that has become an everyday thing for me. As I've said earlier, the visual information is phoney, the physical interaction is a sham, and it all distracts and interferes with the real information that is transmitted. In IRC, the visual element is usually missing, but it's always possible to post a picture on the web and post the url in the chat. It's crude compared to Second Life, but it's REAL. I like seeing what the person I'm talking to looks like; I'm not interested in seeing a pixilated puppet that looks like Wile E Coyote.

Second Life, or something like it is definitely here to stay, but they're overselling it. It has applications for entertainment, advertising, and possibly art. For tens of thousands and potentially for many more, Second Life is fun. Fun is good. Fun is and should profitable. Some have no use for kareoke, but I enjoy it.


However, for business and education, I really do believe that its applications are going to be vastly limited. I'm sorry, but I just can't see how dragging an avatar to a virtual classroom or a virtual meeting isn't a waste of time, attention and bandwidth. Any IRC client makes a better interface, but that's only the beginning of what is possible.

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28. Anonymous on December 16, 2006 11:05 AM writes...

(Sorry about posting twice. Honest, I was told that the first post hadn't registered.)

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29. Howard Rheingold on December 16, 2006 11:26 AM writes...

I've lectured in Second Life, complete with slides, and remarked that I didn't really see the advantage of doing it in SL. Members of the audience pointed out that it enabled people from all over the world to participate and to chat with each other while listening to my voice and watching my slides; again, you don't need an immersive graphical simulation world to do that. I think the real proof of SL as an educational medium with unique affordances would come into play if an architecture class was able to hold sessions within scale models of the buildings they are studying, if a biochemistry class could manipulate realistic scale-model simulations of protein molecules, or if any kind of lesson involving 3D objects or environments could effectively simulate the behaviors of those objects or the visual-auditory experience of navigating those environments. Just as the techniques of teleoperation that emerged from the first days of VR ended up as valuable components of laparascopic surgery, we might see some surprise spinoffs in the educational arena. A problem there, of course, is that education systems suffer from a great deal more than a lack of immersive environments. I'm not ready to write off the educational potential of SL, although, as noted, the importance of that potential should be seen in context. In this regard, we're still in the early days of the medium, similar to cinema in the days when filmmakers nailed a camera tripod to a stage and filmed a play; SL needs D.W. Griffiths to come along and invent the equivalent of close-ups, montage, etc.

The one difficult to surmount obstacle is the learning curve. One figure I'd like to see is the number of people who create objects and environments in SL. That population is where the innovations are likely to emerge.

I think the SL hype deserves debunking, but let's not set that debunking up as an eternal straw man. Who, exactly, is predicting that any percentage of the population will really live in SL? (Someone who has lost a loved one to WOW?) To me, the point has long since ceased to be whether or not this is going to be as popular as solitaire, but whether some truly useful innovation is going to emerge.

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30. Mark Federman on December 16, 2006 12:37 PM writes...

I am dubious about the role of SL in education (save the use of manipulable microscopic or cosmic artefacts as illustration - and for these, one does not necessarily need an entire SL environment). My experience is with graduate students in the social sciences in which the SL environment would be more of a distraction than a medium to encourage collaborative discovery/creation of emergent knowledge. For me, the issue is one of mental space, not physical or cyber-space, that needs to be transformed in collaborative learning. Having linear, literate thinkers get used to the mental space of emergent collaborative voice in a wiki environment is often challenge enough, without the eye-candy of a Second Life space. However, many of the social constructs of gaming (in general) CAN be created in a less visually distracting environment that is far more pedagogically productive.

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31. Anonymous on December 17, 2006 1:24 AM writes...

Well, there are definitely people out there predicting that Second Life is the model for the internet of the future, I sure hope that they're wrong, and I make it my business to get out on the web and counter the hype at every opportunity. I'm encountering more people who are dubious about second life than are enthusiastic. You have to be a certain kind of person to be comfortable in second life; you have to be a gamer.

Architecture may indeed be a good example of where second life may actually have some practical use.

But I'm not interested in archetecture, and the one Linux user Group meeting I attended in Seconed Life was a really boring affair. Everybody sat around in a semicircle, and it looked like the painting of the dogs playing poker. I could find a more interesting conversation on Linux in IRC after five minutes effort, 24/7.

My point is that I hate second life, don't expect to spend much time there in the future, and the signs indicate that there are enough people like me out there so that I will always have an alternative.

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32. Prokofy Neva on December 17, 2006 4:14 AM writes...

Howard, the difference between your usual RL lectures and the SL lecture is the interesting cross-cut -- people in different time zones and countries and people from various walks of life completely outside the usual circuit you might be on, all come together. Maybe there is only 40 or 160 of them, due to server limitations, but this will get better, and of course there are repeaters and putting in the URLs of shoutcast servers, etc.

Moreover, you can interact with these people more intimately than you could in SL, more instantly and deeply (as well as move selectively) -- in part because even being a famous guy, you are in a protected avatar -- nobody's going to be stalking you and following you home. And the people who came to hear you can talk to each other in the room chat or in IMs while you are giving the presentation, or in various group IMs mean there is a height and depth to the meeting -- when they say it is 3-D, it is not just the dimensions of the physical objects, but the more layered human experience.

This might not seem like much to you now, but it's very compelling if you live it, rather than just parachuting in for a few hours. It replaced TV instantly for a lot of people because they no longer had to sit passively and wait for some tepid offering to be pushed to them, but could either script, cast, and narrate their own "movie" or interact in augmented RL events such as your lecture.

TV definitely pales when you an either chose to be in your own sitcom or dramatic play or when you can attend events and speak to people and have discussions that you just would never have in RL even living next door to Barnes & Nobles and attending all their book-signings of famous people as I often do.

Growth might be slower than everyone admits at Linden Lab or among the cheerleaders, but it's solid, and will continue to have a big impact. You don't need a billion people to have an impact; you need 10,000 plugged-in opinion makers to begin a slow and steady and then accelerating revolution.

I'm not sure that SL is relevant for old-fashioned RL education of the static kind where pupils listen to a talking head in front of a blackboard. But in SL, those distractable types will be able, as they listen to the talking head drone, be able to take apart the blackboard and maybe finally get a good whiteboard made, or browse among the many offers of text or voice presented in a space, or ask questions of their peers. Its about being able to tune in across a wider bandwidth.

It's not for everybody. In fact, most of the people who brought us Web 1.0 will be annoyed by it because it's not about them.

I'm puzzled by your comments about close-ups and montage. All of that is already in SL, and is reflected in the fascinating machinima movement, making everything from arty stuff to news reels.

As for simulation of real objects, this is still in its early stages. For example, Alphazero might script a chicken that can follow you around, come when called, lay eggs, etc. and somebody else might make a workable planet model and of course there is the organic life sim of Svarga and the AI experiments. But it isn't a sustained kind of AI.

I have to chuckle at Eric calling IRC "real" merely because he likes the types on there and the discussions -- calling the visual depiction of an avatar in SL somehow fake or hokey misses the point that the avatar is the window of the soul in many cases -- people work hard at making avatars that in surprising ways reveal things about them that are very different than RL. I can't imagine how a picture pushed on IRC or Yahoo Messenger can approximate the live interactivity of communicating between avatars in SL.

E-mail turned out to be a much more volatile and emotional medium than many people, especially people in offices, were ready for. Second Life is like that too. The full impact isn't yet being seen or felt.

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33. Prokofy Neva on December 17, 2006 4:51 AM writes...

Howard, the difference between your usual RL lectures and the SL lecture is the interesting cross-cut -- people in different time zones and countries and people from various walks of life completely outside the usual circuit you might be on, all come together. Maybe there is only 40 or 160 of them, due to server limitations, but this will get better, and of course there are repeaters and putting in the URLs of shoutcast servers, etc.

Moreover, you can interact with these people more intimately than you could in SL, more instantly and deeply (as well as move selectively) -- in part because even being a famous guy, you are in a protected avatar -- nobody's going to be stalking you and following you home. And the people who came to hear you can talk to each other in the room chat or in IMs while you are giving the presentation, or in various group IMs mean there is a height and depth to the meeting -- when they say it is 3-D, it is not just the dimensions of the physical objects, but the more layered human experience.

This might not seem like much to you now, but it's very compelling if you live it, rather than just parachuting in for a few hours. It replaced TV instantly for a lot of people because they no longer had to sit passively and wait for some tepid offering to be pushed to them, but could either script, cast, and narrate their own "movie" or interact in augmented RL events such as your lecture.

TV definitely pales when you an either chose to be in your own sitcom or dramatic play or when you can attend events and speak to people and have discussions that you just would never have in RL even living next door to Barnes & Nobles and attending all their book-signings of famous people as I often do.

Growth might be slower than everyone admits at Linden Lab or among the cheerleaders, but it's solid, and will continue to have a big impact. You don't need a billion people to have an impact; you need 10,000 plugged-in opinion makers to begin a slow and steady and then accelerating revolution.

I'm not sure that SL is relevant for old-fashioned RL education of the static kind where pupils listen to a talking head in front of a blackboard. But in SL, those distractable types will be able, as they listen to the talking head drone, be able to take apart the blackboard and maybe finally get a good whiteboard made, or browse among the many offers of text or voice presented in a space, or ask questions of their peers. Its about being able to tune in across a wider bandwidth.

It's not for everybody. In fact, most of the people who brought us Web 1.0 will be annoyed by it because it's not about them.

I'm puzzled by your comments about close-ups and montage. All of that is already in SL, and is reflected in the fascinating machinima movement, making everything from arty stuff to news reels.

As for simulation of real objects, this is still in its early stages. For example, Alphazero might script a chicken that can follow you around, come when called, lay eggs, etc. and somebody else might make a workable planet model and of course there is the organic life sim of Svarga and the AI experiments. But it isn't a sustained kind of AI.

I have to chuckle at Eric calling IRC "real" merely because he likes the types on there and the discussions -- calling the visual depiction of an avatar in SL somehow fake or hokey misses the point that the avatar is the window of the soul in many cases -- people work hard at making avatars that in surprising ways reveal things about them that are very different than RL. I can't imagine how a picture pushed on IRC or Yahoo Messenger can approximate the live interactivity of communicating between avatars in SL.

E-mail turned out to be a much more volatile and emotional medium than many people, especially people in offices, were ready for. Second Life is like that too. The full impact isn't yet being seen or felt.

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34. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 6:12 AM writes...

Prokofy Neva, your smugness ("I have to chuckle at Eric") gives me license to tell you just how creepy i found your post. Second Life is basically a big costume party, and there's nothing wrong with that. Costume parties are fun, but when you start arguing that the costume party is superior to ordinary communication, there's something seriously disordered about that.

The idea that my avatar is "a window to my soul", i.e., "more real than reality" is profoundly disturbing, as is your attitude of smug superiority about Web 1.0.

It bugs me that no one ever describes second life as fun. Why does it always have to be so important, so profound, so much realer than reality?

The fantasy roleplaying element means that there's really no such thing as a lie in Second Life. My avatar may be the window to my soul, it may be a calculated effort to manipulate you into buying my land or having virtual sex with me. One is not really more acceptable than the other. Anything goes, which is fine as long as it's entertainment.

I've spent about six hours in Second Life, and that's enough time to know that I want no part of it, and I'm dedicated to keeping it from infecting the rest of the web. I consider myself an activist for the preservation of a reality-based internet.

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35. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 6:15 AM writes...

Prokofy Neva, your smugness ("I have to chuckle at Eric") gives me license to tell you just how creepy i found your post. Second Life is basically a big costume party, and there's nothing wrong with that. Costume parties are fun, but when you start arguing that the costume party is superior to ordinary communication, there's something seriously disordered about that.

The idea that my avatar is "a window to my soul", i.e., "more real than reality" is profoundly disturbing, as is your attitude of smug superiority about Web 1.0.

It bugs me that no one ever describes second life as fun. Why does it always have to be so important, so profound, so much realer than reality?

The fantasy roleplaying element means that there's really no such thing as a lie in Second Life. My avatar may be the window to my soul, it may be a calculated effort to manipulate you into buying my land or having virtual sex with me. One is not really more acceptable than the other. Anything goes, which is fine as long as it's entertainment.

I've spent about six hours in Second Life, and that's enough time to know that I want no part of it, and I'm dedicated to keeping it from infecting the rest of the web. I consider myself an activist for the preservation of a reality-based internet.

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36. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 6:18 AM writes...

Prokofy Neva, your smugness ("I have to chuckle at Eric") gives me license to tell you just how creepy i found your post. Second Life is basically a big costume party, and there's nothing wrong with that. Costume parties are fun, but when you start arguing that the costume party is superior to ordinary communication, there's something seriously disordered about that.

The idea that my avatar is "a window to my soul", i.e., "more real than reality" is profoundly disturbing, as is your attitude of smug superiority about Web 1.0.

It bugs me that no one ever describes second life as fun. Why does it always have to be so important, so profound, so much realer than reality?

The fantasy roleplaying element means that there's really no such thing as a lie in Second Life. My avatar may be the window to my soul, it may be a calculated effort to manipulate you into buying my land or having virtual sex with me. One is not really more acceptable than the other. Anything goes, which is fine as long as it's entertainment.

I've spent about six hours in Second Life, and that's enough time to know that I want no part of it, and I'm dedicated to keeping it from infecting the rest of the web. I consider myself an activist for the preservation of a reality-based internet.

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37. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 9:07 AM writes...

Prokofy Neva, your smugness ("I have to chuckle at Eric") gives me license to tell you just how creepy i found your post. Second Life is basically a big costume party, and there's nothing wrong with that. Costume parties are fun, but when you start arguing that the costume party is superior to ordinary communication, there's something seriously disordered about that.

The idea that my avatar is "a window to my soul", i.e., "more real than reality" is profoundly disturbing, as is your attitude of smug superiority about Web 1.0.

It bugs me that no one ever describes second life as fun. Why does it always have to be so important, so profound, so much realer than reality?

The fantasy roleplaying element means that there's really no such thing as a lie in Second Life. My avatar may be the window to my soul, it may be a calculated effort to manipulate you into buying my land or having virtual sex with me. One is not really more acceptable than the other. Anything goes, which is fine as long as it's entertainment.

I've spent about six hours in Second Life, and that's enough time to know that I want no part of it, and I'm dedicated to keeping it from infecting the rest of the web. I consider myself an activist for the preservation of a reality-based internet.

Permalink to Comment

38. Prokofy Neva on December 17, 2006 12:14 PM writes...

Howard, the difference between your usual RL lectures and the SL lecture is the interesting cross-cut -- people in different time zones and countries and people from various walks of life completely outside the usual circuit you might be on, all come together. Maybe there is only 40 or 160 of them, due to server limitations, but this will get better, and of course there are repeaters and putting in the URLs of shoutcast servers, etc.

Moreover, you can interact with these people more intimately than you could in SL, more instantly and deeply (as well as move selectively) -- in part because even being a famous guy, you are in a protected avatar -- nobody's going to be stalking you and following you home. And the people who came to hear you can talk to each other in the room chat or in IMs while you are giving the presentation, or in various group IMs mean there is a height and depth to the meeting -- when they say it is 3-D, it is not just the dimensions of the physical objects, but the more layered human experience.

This might not seem like much to you now, but it's very compelling if you live it, rather than just parachuting in for a few hours. It replaced TV instantly for a lot of people because they no longer had to sit passively and wait for some tepid offering to be pushed to them, but could either script, cast, and narrate their own "movie" or interact in augmented RL events such as your lecture.

TV definitely pales when you an either chose to be in your own sitcom or dramatic play or when you can attend events and speak to people and have discussions that you just would never have in RL even living next door to Barnes & Nobles and attending all their book-signings of famous people as I often do.

Growth might be slower than everyone admits at Linden Lab or among the cheerleaders, but it's solid, and will continue to have a big impact. You don't need a billion people to have an impact; you need 10,000 plugged-in opinion makers to begin a slow and steady and then accelerating revolution.

I'm not sure that SL is relevant for old-fashioned RL education of the static kind where pupils listen to a talking head in front of a blackboard. But in SL, those distractable types will be able, as they listen to the talking head drone, be able to take apart the blackboard and maybe finally get a good whiteboard made, or browse among the many offers of text or voice presented in a space, or ask questions of their peers. Its about being able to tune in across a wider bandwidth.

It's not for everybody. In fact, most of the people who brought us Web 1.0 will be annoyed by it because it's not about them.

I'm puzzled by your comments about close-ups and montage. All of that is already in SL, and is reflected in the fascinating machinima movement, making everything from arty stuff to news reels.

As for simulation of real objects, this is still in its early stages. For example, Alphazero might script a chicken that can follow you around, come when called, lay eggs, etc. and somebody else might make a workable planet model and of course there is the organic life sim of Svarga and the AI experiments. But it isn't a sustained kind of AI.

I have to chuckle at Eric calling IRC "real" merely because he likes the types on there and the discussions -- calling the visual depiction of an avatar in SL somehow fake or hokey misses the point that the avatar is the window of the soul in many cases -- people work hard at making avatars that in surprising ways reveal things about them that are very different than RL. I can't imagine how a picture pushed on IRC or Yahoo Messenger can approximate the live interactivity of communicating between avatars in SL.

E-mail turned out to be a much more volatile and emotional medium than many people, especially people in offices, were ready for. Second Life is like that too. The full impact isn't yet being seen or felt.

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39. Prokofy Neva on December 17, 2006 12:22 PM writes...

blackbelt, I suppose Second Life isn't for everybody, nor would I impose it on anybody, that's silly. I think people who felt they owned Web 1.0, and as I'm seeing, those who feel they own Web 2.0, are going to be dismayed that it will be meaningful, and used by a great many people.

I'll tell you what's creepy -- your idea that on the Internet, which is basically a free place, you could make yourself dedicated to keeping something from "infecting the rest of the web" and be so conservative as to preserve a "reality-based Internet" as you understand it. Why would you -- versus somebody else -- get to prevail in that fashion?!

Perhaps Second Life isn't just a mirror into a person's soul, but a reflective mirror as well. The enormous emotionality it inspires in such people as danah boyd, who is having an attack of irritation, or you, seems evidence enough of that.

I don't think that one can argue that costumed role-play or cybersex are somehow more real or even better than real life. I don't think people make those claims about anything on the Internet that is virtual. I do think you have to accept, however, that they are part of human life, and that in itself makes them as real as humans ever are.

I don't find that SL is manipulative and cajoles people into buying land or having cybersex in the way you hysterically imagine after having spent only six hours there.

There is so much more going on in SL beyond your cramped imaginings.

Trust me, IBM isn't there for the fantasy costume parties.

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40. eraserhead on December 17, 2006 1:17 PM writes...

Jesus Prokofy, is their not a single board that you don't preach the gospel of Second Life on? Maybe I should check non-gaming boards to be sure your not there also.

What really kills me about you is how people can try Second Life, not like it, and you think they are "missing out", "not getting it", "web 1.0", etc. bloody etc.

Well thank you Mr. Fancypants for ridding to our salvation to tell us that we are all wrong, whew.

You know, if I stub my toe it hurts, I don't like it, so maybe I just need someone like you to convince me to just keep doing it, I didn't give it enough time, if I had stubbed it longer than 6 hours and gotten into the soul of my pain I would finally "get it" and be at one with the universe.

And I think we all know IBM isn't there for the costume parties, IBM is there because they are trying to, wait for it, associate their name with all things "Gaming". Gasp, shock, IBM thinks its a game, on no Chicken Little your sky is falling. IBM isn't there because they think SL is the shiznit, or Web 2.0 you slang throwing nutbag, they are their because their chipset dominates consoles, and to further establish IBM's name with games. Shock, gasp, it's a game.

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41. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 1:30 PM writes...

Well, I know I'm not going to prevail, or at least I don't think of it in these terms. You're the hype, I'm the antihype and it will sort itself out.

I've never been described as "consevative" before. I've been liberal-baited so many time that I rather like it. And I'm not saying that I'm not saying that you're wrong. Maybe I really am the conservative this time. No definitely, I am. How about that?

If I can get you to acknowledge that SL isn't for everyone, I'm satisfied with that. It's the sweeping grandiose statements that scare the bejeezum out of me. Second Lifers are always making statement that seem to me to be based on dubious epistemology. (If you've never really met someone, how can you really know or even suppose that his avatar is a window to his soul?)

No, it's not about prevailing, it's about claiming the center for reality. I'm not trying to take away anybody's fun, though I'd keep a close eye on IBM if I were you.

I've also said many times that I reserve the right to return to Second Life, decide that I like it, and STILL work to claim the center for reality. Lately I've been thinking that I would like to direct and act in a play in second life, maybe Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi.

No doubt about it, Second Life (or the technology that it represents) is here to stay... like kareoke, which can also be a window to the soul. I think that a lot of the hype will die out when people and businesses try to actually apply it to some of these business and educational applications. For anyone else other than the SL enthusiast or the experienced gamer, I think SL is going to turn out to be a horribly bloated and inefficient interface... but that will lead to the creation of smarter and better interfaces.

And there will be specialized applications. Architecture was mentioned previously, and I had to nod my head. There will surely be others that I haven't thought of.

But, hell, the entertainment possibilities are pretty endless, and pretty obvious, and it annoys me that no one ever mentions them. No one ever talks about Second Life in terms of fun. Why do you suppose that is?

If you have a gmail adress, please feel free to leave comments at
http://www.ihatesecondlife.blogspot.com

Let's see if I can post just once this time.

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42. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 1:46 PM writes...

The question I have about IBM is just how much of an investment does IBM or any other corporate entity have to make to establish a presence in Second Life... and I'm talking dollars, not Linden Dollars. How does this kind of expenditure compare with the cost of starting a website, or an advertising campaign?

I have a Google news alert in place for Second Life, and it seems like every time anyone does anything in Second Life, it's reported as a news event. You couldn't get that kind of publicity by starting a website, even though a website has the potential to reach maybe a thousand times more people. But what is a Second Life location, really, but a fancy website?

Hype generates hype.

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43. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 2:08 PM writes...

[quote} I don't find that SL is manipulative and cajoles people into buying land or having cybersex in the way you hysterically imagine after having spent only six hours there.[end of quote]

Of course you don't find SL manipulative. you're looking into everybody's soul.

Not what I said.

What I said was that the fantasy roleplaying nature of Second Life means that, by definition, there's no such thing as lying. I don't know what people's motives are, and neither do you.

Actually, when you talk about people making money in second life, it seems to me that some of them will seek to further their ends by assuming a pleasing shape. That's a no-brainer. Any RL salesman would do that if he could. And so would any RL prostitute.

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44. Prokofy Neva on December 17, 2006 3:55 PM writes...

It's not the fantasy role-play per se that creates this problem, it's the anonymous avatar, and the uncertainty of an environment where you cannot be sure if the person is using SL for a RP, or using it for business or non-profit work.

And while the ambiguity may trouble you, most people just put on their profile what they are doing. If they are helping children in Africa as World Vision, they put that, and a website link that lets you know they are a bonafide group with a RL connection.

If they are just role-playing furries, they will have an avatar's anonymous name. The sims are usually demarcated anyway by their titles and groups.

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45. Prokofy Neva on December 17, 2006 3:59 PM writes...

Defending my position doesn't mean I impose that position on others, they are free to defend their positions. I don't preach about SL, I'm hugely critial of it as a resident. What I do call people on is their ideological preaching against it. And I try to outline the reasons I've found for why people enjoy it and find it compelling.

Well, *gasp* *shock* IBM by its own description seems to be up to a lot more than just "gaming" in SL or getting mindshare about their game chipsets.

BTW, I use a name here that has an established reputation and well-know blog and attaches to a RL name, and none of the rest of you do, so I think you can go on slinging insults from behind cover of anonymity, but I don't have to play : )

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46. eraserhead on December 17, 2006 5:47 PM writes...

Ideological preaching against it? Wow, thats deep, soulfull even. Yes people enjoy Second Life, yes people will continue to enjoy Second Life. You on the other hand can't seem to understand how or why it is that others do not, and must ride in our your white horse to tell us where we are wrong, where we don't get it, and decide that we are all neanderthals that went out with the likes of Lycos and Webcrawler and don't understand they great things that Second Life is doing to further mankind.

Please, it's a freaking game is all we are saying, most of us discussing this here HAVE seen it before, we weren't impressed then, and even less so now because of the hype.

And don't give me that "it's a platform" crap, Second Life is no more a platform than MySpace is, hey you can customize your space in MySpace, have video, music, conversations, wow.

Name one thing you can do in Second Life that you can't do anywhere else, one thing. Name one thing you can do in Second Life faster than you can elsewhere, one thing. So now that's two things, for those keeping score, if you can answer either of them I will be amazed.

Oh and reputation, you've built a reputation all right. I really had no idea who you were until I did search your name to check out your reputation, and I can see it fits.

Now, in true form I except you to reply back, even though you stated you don't have to play, but I'll take bets on that.

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47. Anonymous on December 17, 2006 6:18 PM writes...

[quote]It's not the fantasy role-play per se that creates this problem, it's the anonymous avatar, and the uncertainty of an environment where you cannot be sure if the person is using SL for a RP, or using it for business or non-profit work.[/quote]

No, you're not getting my point at all. In an IRC chat room, the anonymous chat room makes it easy for people to lie, and many do-- but in that context a lie is a lie. In the fantasy roleplaying context, there's really no such thing as a lie... do you understand the distinction?

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48. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 6:22 PM writes...

In other words, is not that a moral lne has been crossed... the moral line has actually been erased.

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49. Andrew Hinton on December 17, 2006 7:01 PM writes...

Clay & others... I've been in a sort of love it/annoyed by it relationship with SL for a while. This post prompted me to finally articulate some of my issues with it here http://www.inkblurt.com/archives/423
Short version: the hype is a problem, yes, and it needs deflating; but I think SL is a useful prototype for a sort of hybrid future (ubicomp, etc) and that it does serve as an influential catalyst for people to think about what it's like to walk around in a data-saturated world. On some level, I think it will be influential in that continuing evolution. But not as a literal model for the future of the web.
So, I don't think whether or not their reported numbers are correct is really the issue. I think Howard R's comments above are also spot on. But let's face it, for every architect or dna scientist, there are at lesat a hundred people just treating it like a chat room or a roadside flea market. Which further proves that a second life isn't much of an escape from the first :-)

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50. blackbelt_jones on December 17, 2006 7:09 PM writes...

I agree with eraserhead. I didn't have a problem with Second Life until I started reading that it was the model for the internet of the future, and that someday we'll all be interacting with the net like that, and that's when it became my business, and that's when I had to respond with a hearty "fuck that!".


Neva, I don't doubt that you enjoy second life, that your enjoyment is real, and that it's something richer and more rewarding for you than a mere diversion, and I don't think anyone wants to take that away from you, surely not I.

But the future of the internet is something that I
have a stake in, and I do indeed have something to say about the future of the net.

Please consider the possibility that if Second Life is becoming controversial it may have something to do with guys like you making crazy hyperoblic statements about how SL created "a new emotional bandwidth", and how the avatar is "a window to the soul" and celebrating real-time networking attributes that have been common on the internet for a couple of decades as if SL invented them. You can't stop overselling it, and when people respond unfavorably, you reflexively oversell it some more.

I can't tell if you're really crazy or if you're just a bad writer with a proclivity for hyperbolic cliches. Either way, I doubt if second life made you that way, and second life is generally harmless fun that threatens nothing but the rest of the internet, and that threat is relatively minor.

Believe me: we're not the ones who are going to ruin everything for you; it's the corporate types who want to make a buck by selling SL to the whole world. When the rest of the world refuses to buy, we're helping to keep your Eden pure. I think we're really on the same side here.

You have your Second Life, Neva; enjoy it!

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51. James Tunick on December 17, 2006 9:34 PM writes...

Clay states, "Never mind that the cursor is a terrific way to navigate information; never mind that Amazon works precisely because it dispenses with rather than embraces the cyberspace metaphor; never mind that all the “Now you can shop in 3D efforts� like the San Francisco Yellow Pages tanked because 3D is a crappy way to search."

I would strongly disagree with parts of this statement. First, the cursor as we know it is dated. The mouse/cursor interface was built for a single person and a flat page for which it is indeed terrifically well suited. But the cursor is limiting for other types of interaction such as collaborative tasks and any other types of data management or data exploration that go beyond the 2D screen. Full body video tracking, gesture tracking, and physical interfaces like Jeff Han's Multi-Touch Interaction surfaces begin to imagine richer, more collaborative, and physical ways of controlling multiple cursors at once- concepts that will come in handy in future immersive worlds... http://cs.nyu.edu/~jhan/ftirtouch/index.html

As the amount of videos, essays, research, and other user generated content continues to grow, how will users, engineers, and researchers possibly still use the traditional mouse/cursor to find what they are looking for much less to work together to build the next space ship to Mars? Surely the single-user mouse/cursor can only be understood as a great way to navigate certain types of information, not all types of information.

This brings me to my second, and more substantial disagreement with part of Clay's argument. 3D is only a crappy way to search some types of information- a phone book is a great example in that it is best searched and displayed in a 2D list format- there is no need for 3D in this case. But this simply cannot be true of all information and content. What about searching massive archives of video? Or searching data that is already in a 3D format such as geographical surveys or an archive of 3D buildings? 2D lists just won't work as well as 3D spaces when it comes to certain types of search.

Also, due to the way our brain is built (after all, we evolved in a 3D world), our ability to remember 3D spaces and navigate 3D spaces is greatly enhanced. This means that 3D search could actually be more efficient in certain situations.

I had the pleasure of meeting Philip Rosedale at the State of Play Conference last year. I asked him about immersive environments and told him about my belief in 3D search. He said to me something along the lines of, "How many things can you remember in your home folder? Now, how many things can you remember in your home?" Granted he is a true, die-hard believer in 3D worlds. But the answer to his questions, if you ask yourself, clearly demonstrates how spatial cognition can actually augment memory, helping us place "physical bookmarks" that capture certain pieces of information allowing us to recall the information more quickly. This was also a technique used in the Ancient Art of Memory and has been documented more recently in Microsoft research projects such "Data Mountain".

Granted there is lots of hype surrounding SL; granted there is (and has been for quite some time) lots of hype surrounding virtual reality; granted many people see a future where we all inhabit a virtual world. In trying so hard to mimic and replace reality, it is no surprise that virtual worlds like SL most often fail.

But what about immersive environments that blend virtual and real; what about new interfaces that allow richer group interactions; and what about 3D search engines that augment group memory?

Here is a concrete example of how 3D search could go well beyond flat pages of search results. What if you are not browsing for a single video with a known title, but rather that you are browsing to see what's out there and what people generally think about videos tagged with the keywords "Second Life". On a flat page, using current traditional search techniques such as Google or You Tube keyword searches (flat lists), it might take you hours, days or even years to sort through the 4076+ results on You Tube or the daunting 474,000,000 results on Google. And even once you've done so, it might be hard to see the relationships of the videos to each other, much less to remember which pages of results contained what you were looking for.

So what about a 3D search engine that would (automatically or manually) assign physical locations/coordinates to certain types of videos or even assign physical attributes to 3D media objects, providing multiple visual ques about the information the media object contains. Rather than reading through a list of tags and attributes one at a time, a simple glance at groups of 3D objects and their locations could tell you a lot about those pieces of media. For example, a long video might actually appear to be a long rectangle and a short video could appear to be a short rectangle. Or videos with more views might float to the top of the virtual world. And the videos about Second Life would be found in a different part of the virtual space than the videos about World of Warcraft.

Anyway, I think overall Clay is right on in deflating some of the hype around SL- it's about time someone took a more realistic and skeptical look. But I strongly disagree with his statements that the cursor as we know it is useful for all things or that 3D search is necessarily crappy for all things.

On the contrary, as new experiments in 3D spaces go beyond the normal video game and go beyond trying to replicate the web (or the real world) as we know it, I think we will see more and more abstract and imaginative virtual spaces that branch off into new areas like collaborative building of "artifacts" and new 3D search engines.

Second Life may not be all its cracked up to be (or what Mr. Rosedale would like people to believe), but it’s an experiment that pushes the boundaries of virtual worlds, social spaces, and user generated media spaces. Though I agree with Clay for the most part, I sincerely hope there will be more Philip Rosedale’s willing to push the envelope. Matrix and Snow Crash may not be here in the near future, but immersive You Tube environments and 3D Google searches should be!

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52. Carmel Vaisman on December 18, 2006 4:28 PM writes...

thank you for writing that! when i first used second life ( I didn't bail yet but I can't stay online more than 10 minutes without getting bored), i noticed it's logical resemblance to the old MUDs and MOOs thrown into a computer game environment. However, I think the graphic version makes a difference on another angle: the identification of the user with the avatar. not many people identify with worlds built by words, you need a certain intelligence and imagination. in graphic worlds, like in computer games, there's a different kind of identification that's more popular, it's more like in the movies and it intensifies the fantasy audiences have of manipulating the protagonist of a movie. i do think there's some upgrade due to the adding of the visual elements though it's too early to say what it means for internet culture.

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53. Brian O' Hanlon on December 18, 2006 6:27 PM writes...

I have just written a response here on cooperation commons blog site.

http://www.cooperationcommons.com/cooperation-commons/the-production-of-space

Brian O' Hanlon.

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54. Brian O' Hanlon on December 18, 2006 6:33 PM writes...

The Production of Space, is the title of a book by Henri Lefebvre, which I am currently studying. I am interested in these kinds of issues. Another writer I highlight recommend is Hernando De Soto, who has also written about the production of space, in his own way based on vast experience around the globe. I wrote something about Hernando and his ideas here:

http://www.cooperationcommons.com/cooperation-commons/glenn-murcutt-speaks-in-dublin

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55. Alvis Brigis on December 19, 2006 3:51 PM writes...

NORTH POLE / SOUTH POLE

I'd like to see some stats re: how many people actively love/hate Second Life. It's fascinating to regard the truly POLARIZED reactions to such a new technology.

Quiz -- Are you a:

A) SL Hater
B) SL Evangelist
C) Somewhere inbetween

And -- Why are you A, B, or C?

Let me begin: Personally, I love the comm possibilities allowed by SL and believe it will and is diffusing very rapidly, while not unibjectively buying into the huge current numbers. It's still out way ahead of other services / code, but could get usurped. I'd categorize myself as C yet leaning toward B.

How about y'allz? Step up to the plate haters and evangelists and reveal yourselves!

Neuro-economic recklessness and inertia in the house!

Bonus Question: What do SL Lovers and haters have in common?

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56. Burt Separis on December 19, 2006 6:20 PM writes...

I hate Second Life so much I was the first person to think of starting

http://www.ihatesecondlife.blogspot.com

Second Life is an ingenious entertainment, but a horrible Future Of the Web. It's the Second Life that is the Future that I hate, not the clever and creative toy, which I may give another try some day.

I also hate the way SL evangelists can't stop themselves from making goofy statements about SL. Either they're proposing using SL as the interface for things it would suck at (Education for example. Why do I need to drag an avatar to a virtual classroom and sit with other avatars? What a colossal waste of bandwidth!) or they're praising attributes of real time networking that people have been getting for about twenty years through IRC, as if Second Life had invented them. Makes me want to vomit.

I hope I answered your question.

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57. Burt Serapis on December 19, 2006 6:27 PM writes...

http://mmorpg.qj.net/index.php?&pg=49&aid=76338&act=success

Hey, I almost forgot. I came here to announce that SL just reached two million members! Impresssed? Me neither.

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58. Hrolf Engebretsen on December 20, 2006 2:39 PM writes...

In post 46, eraserhead said "... Name one thing you can do in Second Life faster than you can elsewhere ...".

I can build and furnish a house in 2 hours, from flat land to all structures completed and all furniture in place - and then walk thru that house and decide exactly how well it works as an engine for living. Given that I am not a real life building architect, but have an avid interest in the architectural principles espoused by Christopher Alexander in his book "A Pattern Language", SL provides a means for me to try out usable examples of his patterns in ways not otherwise available to me.

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59. Anonymous on December 21, 2006 11:59 AM writes...

Hrolf, that's a really good example of a good, appropriate application of second life. I really don't think it's the best possible interface for virtual buisness meetings, or for the virtual classroom. I'm sure I must have said why by now. To put it bluntly, I want real information, not phoney information.

But the social and entertainment potential is real, and architecture is certainly one field in which there are excellent educational and marketing applications. Virtual classrooms in SL may not be a great idea.

I just wish they'd stop overselling it, Second Life doesn't need to BE the future in order to HAVE a future.

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60. Anonymous on December 21, 2006 12:01 PM writes...

Hrolf, that's a really good example of a good, appropriate application of second life. I really don't think it's the best possible interface for virtual buisness meetings, or for the virtual classroom. I'm sure I must have said why by now. To put it bluntly, I want real information, not phoney information.

But the social and entertainment potential is real, and architecture is certainly one field in which there are excellent educational and marketing applications. Virtual classrooms in SL may not be a great idea.

I just wish they'd stop overselling it, Second Life doesn't need to BE the future in order to HAVE a future.

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61. Ramesh Ramloll on December 27, 2006 8:23 PM writes...

We are still exploring how SL can be used for educational purposes. A lot of the discussions really relate to what is possible within 3D versus otherwise. Interesting that SL has now come to embody 3D interactions for many and all the traditional anti-3D sentiments are being directed at SL. I think SL is a just a progressive step not the end game as most of us am sure realize. Beyond the obvious advantages regarding affordances of a multimedia multisensory immersive vr (which is certainly going to be the end result of something like SL down the line), the very same technologies that will sustain future versions of SL will also help to found the collaborative technologies of the future that will involve collaborations in nanospaces or other physically or humanly accessible spaces.

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62. Andrew D. Todd on December 28, 2006 7:50 AM writes...

I don't know whether the Second Life user interface is intrinsically hard. I have never tried Second Life myself. However, I have messed around a little with Blender, the open-source animation tool, on a Linux machine. If Second Life is anything like Blender, the user interface difficulties arise fundamentally from using two-dimensional pointing devices, such as mice, to refer to the three or six axes of three-dimensional space. The new Nintendo Wii inertial controller is designed to do this kind of thing. Maybe a dataglove would have been better, but that is as it may be. The important thing is that Nintendo has made the necessary manufacturing commitment, and the logic of mass production will take over. Presumably inertial controllers will become available in due course for PC's (Windows and Linux), Macs, etc., the way the mouse spread in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Presumably the user would use one hand for the mouse, and one hand for the inertial controller, each unit doing what it does best.

Don't forget that the mouse itself came along years after the idea of a cursor did. It took time for the hardware to catch up with the software. In the old days, navigating menus was much more difficult than it is now. The situation is the same now, only in more dimensions.

Another issue is security. I simply cannot give every website root-access to my computer. When someone wants me to download and install an executable program, or even to enable Java and Cookies, my reaction is point-blank refusal. I am quite willing to eliminate prospective vendors on that basis, without even bothering to tell them why. Linden Labs is going to have to do some serious thinking about open source and open standards, and if their business model gets in the way, the business model will have to be scrapped. In the age of spyware, there is no such thing as casually trying a commercial program. An enthusiast might be willing to buy a new computer for Second Life, and to reformat the hard drive and re-install the operating system, before and after, but for anyone except an enthusiast, that is simply too much work.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Essentially, Second Life is the ultimate Barbie Doll (TM) set. I think the test of legitimacy for Second Life is to ask whether it would make sense to use Barbie Dolls (TM) in real world space. An architect might choose to build a balsa wood, cardboard, and celophane model of a building in 1/6 scale, or "playscale," because he could then go out and get a bunch of Barbie Dolls (TM), dollhouse furniture, etc., to populate his model building. Hrolf Engebretsen (post 58), who proposes to use Second Life for the same purpose is working in an established tradition, only with better tools.

http://miniatures.about.com/od/playscale/16_Playscale.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbie_doll

However, this proceeding has recognized limits. An architect is ultimately supposed to be a "master builder," and as an architect reaches a certain level of ability, he becomes a de-facto civil engineer as well. An architect who merely draws pictures is considered morally suspect in many quarters. See, for example, Tom Wolfe, _From Bauhaus to Our House_, 1981. Here is a quotation from the noted architect Gordon Bunshaft, at a prize ceremony in 1980:

"I suppose this is something you don't see every day, an architect handing out money to artists. But, then, a lot of things have changed. We used to give prizes to architects for doing buildings. Now we give prizes to architects for drawing pictures." (Wolfe, p. 117, pbk. ed.)

Many architecture schools encourage students to go out and actually build something, anything, even if it is only a small toolshed in a public park. They send students out into the nearest slum to do things like rehabbing abandoned buildings as low-income housing. Then too, it is recognized that architecture is experienced kinesthetically, in the sense of how it feels to walk up a flight of stairs.

There are rather more outre things you can do with Barbie Dolls (TM). For example, one artist made a set of statues of famous politicians from Barbie (TM) and GI Joe (TM) components, and not only displayed the statues, but also listings of where he got the parts. The statues were duly photographed for a magazine article. The artist's larger purpose was to point out that virtually all politicians (TM) are simply animated versions of those cheap toys one buys at the discount store. Hmm... in view of subsequent events, that is probably an unduly optimistic assessment.

Likewise, there is an established tradition of puppet theatre. It is traditionally confined to farce, slapstick, etc., and as such, is mostly a medium catering to children. Sesame Street is probably the most famous development of this tradition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sesame_Street

However, if you cannot find some kind of pre-existing tradition of doll or puppet or costume usage in a given area, it seems likely that Second Life will fail to penetrate that area.

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63. Ornery Grammarian on January 4, 2007 2:25 PM writes...

Clay, it's agita, not agida.

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64. duvet-dayz.com on January 5, 2007 10:12 AM writes...

Have a look at our story from 29-Dec-2006 about Second Life user numbers and a comparison with other Online Games at http://www.duvet-dayz.com/archives/2006/12/29/251/ .
The story shows that SL is just 3% of WoW and about 1% of the most successful multiplayer game. Link and charts included.

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65. Ian Thorpe on February 4, 2007 12:43 PM writes...

Its the story of the web and will be until all the webheads realise that Google is actually not a way of organising information but a way of disorganising it.

I have given up trying to search for information, the weird places I end up are just not worth the time wasted.

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66. Atom on February 24, 2007 6:08 PM writes...

For me, what it comes down to is this: Second Life doesn't do anything new and it does it worse than it's predecessors.

You wanna shop? Amazon.com and eBay have interfaces specifically built to make it easy for you to do just that.

A good point was mad that you *can* create things fairly easily in SL in 3D space. I suppose that is a semi-valid argument. However, the fact is that SL isn't really even terribly good at that.

The client is *enormous* for what it actually does. It provides chat functionality (I use AIM and IRC, as does everyone that I need to talk to), it provides rudimentary 3D modeling (I took the time to learn how to use Blender 3D and Photoshop).

You can uhm...create an avatar...wow that's incredibly useful...oh wait, not really.

Anything you can do in SL, you can do faster and better using a different piece of software. The exception here is the 3D modeling thing. However from the looks of most of the objects created in SL, most people using SL don't have any business designing anything anyways.

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67. JW on March 1, 2007 3:14 PM writes...

I caught the virus to understand the possible application it might have in the future with respect to recruiting and social networking.

All I can say is AAACHOO

I am now over my cold...

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68. Mark Franklin on March 5, 2007 7:26 PM writes...

I agree that those numbers are just a marketing thing. They publish such high user number figures just to attract more people to their service and create a Second Life mania. I logged in once and I was completely unimpressed. I really don't see the point of it...

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69. Well... on March 16, 2007 3:40 PM writes...

It's amazing how no one mentions what this is really about.
SL is FUN!
You get to interact with people in a funny way... you can do stuff, see stuff, create stuff, you can ride a tiger, go dancing, take a bow, go for a swim... all in 3D and with some good background music.
Who cares if it goes big or not, who cares whether it's new or old? What does it matter to you if you don't like it? NOTHING! You don't have to spend time there if you don't want to... just stay away...
Let those who enjoy it enjoy it and go about your own business.

Potato/potatoh

I think it's fun, you don't... well, we each go our own way and hopefully, be happy!

I like apples, you like bananas...we can discuss forever which is better but by the end of the day... it's all about individual taste!

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70. bandix on April 18, 2007 12:21 AM writes...

That you think that playing with shit is fun doesn't change the fact that shit is shit. So you better go to get rich with your own business in SL and stay out of this conversation.

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71. Anonymous on April 18, 2007 1:26 AM writes...

It's a playground where nerds pose.

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72. Denise on April 24, 2007 11:34 PM writes...

To me the numbers do not mean a thing Second Life is a awsome online 3D communnity worthy ofa join if you surf onine regulary.

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73. Denise on April 24, 2007 11:46 PM writes...

To me the numbers do not mean a thing Second Life is a awsome online 3D communnity worthy of a join if you surf onine regulary.

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74. Test on April 25, 2007 11:25 AM writes...

asd

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75. Gorod on May 2, 2007 6:54 PM writes...

Not much on my mind recently. I've pretty much been doing nothing. I can't be bothered with anything recently.

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76. Derdesa on May 3, 2007 5:44 AM writes...

Hi, every day I receive this (or other) message:
Dont visit this site - sofa sex

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77. Gorod on May 4, 2007 7:39 AM writes...

Some pages can't fit in to a 800x600 screen. I have to scroll left and right to read all the text.

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78. paxturr on May 9, 2007 2:35 PM writes...

гѓ»г‚Ѕд№ќ Hey guys, buy paxil and be happys
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79. Bunc on May 9, 2007 6:52 PM writes...

Second life? Can't say that I've tried it. I am still trying to manage my first life.

It all smacks a little of the blogging boom. How many milion blogs are there now? I dont know the exact numbers but the last I saw crazy numbers were being quoted. Howeverthe reality is that only a fraction of the blogs are actually "live" in any real sense of the word.

For many it is just a case of "me too". Everyone felt that they had to have a blog. But go through blogger and you'll come across blog after blog of the type " er well I thought I'd start a blog and maybe write something but now I cant think of anything interesting to say so I'll just waffle for a bit". Then there might be another post or two and then? Blog death.

It sounds like second life has something of the same about it. If there really are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people prepared to waste their lives as Avatars in a virtual world then world is a sad place. Maybe they are better of the street though so they can't do any harm to anyone.

Now you wouldn't catch me wasting hours in front of a computer .... er

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80. LolitochkaBC on May 10, 2007 2:12 AM writes...

Аанау-ка ребятки голосуем!!!

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81. Zoe on May 21, 2007 7:21 PM writes...

What is the point of Second Life? I have tried it and it keeps saying invalid username and/or password! I hate it and i hope you do to. I might sue the people who made it

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82. Zoe on May 21, 2007 7:25 PM writes...

it is such a bad site. you will get brain washed my it.

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83. Zoe on May 21, 2007 7:25 PM writes...

it is such a bad site. you will get brain washed by it.

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84. Michael B on May 24, 2007 5:38 PM writes...

When you think of a title for a book, you are forced to think of something short and evocative, like, well, 'The Virtual Community,' even though a more accurate title might be: 'People who use computers to communicate, form friendships that sometimes form the basis of communities, but you have to be careful to not mistake the tool for the task and think that just writing words on a screen is the same thing as real community.' - HLR
--
This drug rehabilitation program saved my life.

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85. Diploma owner on August 26, 2007 2:37 PM writes...

'People who use computers to communicate, form friendships that sometimes form the basis of communities, but you have to be careful to not mistake the tool for the task and think that just writing words on a screen is the same thing as real community.

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